September 19, 2015
I have always had an inexplicable fondness for anything Italian – the Ferrari’s, Monica Bellucci, Michelangelo’s art to their world famous Italian cuisine *said with that Italian hand gesture*.
I have imagined gathering up my tifosi on a nice Saturday afternoon, lounging in a posh Italian restaurant with the best available view, acting out my Italian fantasy of being an Italian playboy while eating my heart out on authentic Italian cuisine.
I was recently at Zafferano to try out their newly launched Saturday Italian brunch menu – my dreams, somehow, have come true! Zafferano’s location on the 43rd floor of Ocean Financial Centre gifts its patrons with a near 360 degrees view of the Singapore skyline that includes Marina Bay, the Esplanade and the rest of the cityscape. Check!
And of course, their authentic Italian offerings are one of the best in Singapore, with their kitchen being led by Executive Chef, Marco Guccio. Check!
On the first and last Saturdays of the month, Zafferano is going to serve you the best of their repertoire of Italian cuisine, made of only the best ingredients that they can gather from Italy. Mama mia!
I must say that their antipasti is just indulgent, with a total of 7 opulent items on offer. You should take your time to savour each and everyone of them before moving on to the mains. Chef Guccio stresses that his kitchen has procured some of the best ingredients to make these antipasti. For example, their 24 months Parma ham are from Pio Tosini, one of the best brands of aged meats in Italy.
Another item is their Norwegian sourced Fjord trout that is turned into their thinly sliced carpaccio, further complimented with Avruga caviar, with an added zest of orange.
I have a particular weakness for lobsters – the Baby Lobster Flambé was always in my sight. It is seared with brandy and smothered with cocktail mayo. Chef Marco has a knack in making great seafood antipasti and I think it must have been the Sicilian blood that runs in his veins.
Next, the pasta and risotto – my ABSOLUTE favourites! Chef Guccio rolls out his favourites that are tributes to his mother’s recipe. He has 4 choices on offer – the Lasagna in Minced Beef Ragout (that was an absolute comfort food), Gnocchi in Seafood-based White Wine Sauce, Ravioli with Porcini Mushroom Sauce in Truffle Emulsion, and Risotto a la Milanese with Iranian Saffron. My advice is to try out small portions of these.
The Risotto – this bright yellow risotto with streaks of red saffron will be served to you first. It has to be eaten while it is warm, before the sauce cools down and becomes lumpy. Made of superfine risotto Acquerelo, it is cooked to perfection with Iranian saffron. The choice of the Acquerelo type of risotto was obvious – it is of top quality and absorbs only little moisture.
The Gnocchi has been a stand out in this set – it is such a rarity that this particular type of pasta is cooked with seafood. Smothered with fruttidi de mare tomato sauce, this hand-crafted potato ‘gnocchi’ is authentically Italian. Handed down from Chef Guccio’s mother, the recipe requires the freshest of seafood, and needs to be cooked with white wine in exactly the right amount.
The Ravioli is really a treat, especially for those who love the taste of truffles. The texture of the ravioli is right on. The sauce is rather rich, so do take care not to stuff in too much, even if you cannot help it, like I did.
The Zafferano brunch continues to its next part – the meats. You will get to choose 1 of the 3 superb offerings. The advantage of coming in for brunch is that you can get your mates to order the others – so you will still get to try out all of the food.
The Oven-baked Sea Bass with tomatoes, olives, capers and fresh herbs is an obvious choice for the health conscious – it is the lightest of the three, in terms of portion size. The taste is well balanced and the texture tells you that Zafferano only brings in the freshest of sea basses.
For those with a deeper gullet, I would recommend the Roasted Whole French Spring Chicken – it is well roasted on the top and tender on the inside. This dish is large enough to serve 2, but the greedy (like myself) would have it all to myself.
The Slow-cooked Pork Belly with potatoes and berry sauce was my favourite. The contrast of savoury taste of the pork belly with the gently sour berry sauce was tastefully memorable for me. It was just all I have needed, after a full-on brunch – the contrasting tastes have adequately rejuvenated my appetite.
Finally, the desserts. Would there be anymore space for desserts? Sure, there is. The desserts are deliciously made bite-sized so you could enjoy the finale of your brunch. The choices are the Italian standards: tiramisu, panna cotta, macaroons and seasonal fruits. My recommendations – take the tiramisu and the panna cotta.
Surely, Zafferano’s location in the Central Business District (CBD) means that it is more popular among those who work or reside in that area. But I must tell you that Zafferano is one of those must-discover restaurants that will make your brunch a memorable one – authentic Italian brunch, Zafferano’s impeccable service, oh-that-view of Marina Bay and finally, you get to sip Prosecco or champagne to a blissful lushness, all afternoon!
Zafferano’s Italian Table is served from 1130am till 230pm every first and last Saturdays of the month, with $88++ per person inclusive of free-flow of soft drinks, juices, coffee or tea (you must ask for the affogato!); $108++ per person with free-flow Prosecco or $138++ per person with free-flow of champagne.
Expected damage: $103 to $150 per person